Wisdom in the Midst of Coronavirus

In times of uncertainty, one of the ways Christians should be distinct is in our application of wisdom. We serve a wise and understanding God; we are called to be “a wise and understanding people” (Deuteronomy 4:6). We have a whole genre of Scripture called Wisdom Literature, and in a moment like this, it’s Wisdom Literature that should ground us and guide us.

Here are five ways to live with wisdom in the midst of a global medical pandemic:

  1. Don’t believe everything you hear. “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him” (Proverbs 18:17). There is a LOAD of misinformation out there, even from normally reliable sources. In a moment like this, all news agencies want to get “the scoop,” and widespread anxiety rewards sensationalism and excess. Sloppy journalists have been caught re-tweeting secondary sources rather than doing the hard work to verify the facts on the ground. So in this moment, it’s wise to live by the adage: “trust but verify.”
  2. Don’t assume the future. “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34). Anxiety brings tomorrow’s worries into today. If you’re watching what’s happening in Italy and assuming that’s what’s going to happen in Omaha – you’re doing the very thing Jesus counsels against. Wisdom doesn’t assume the future; wisdom lives patiently and wisely in the present. In this moment, there are SOME people (epidemiologists, infectious disease specialists, and so forth) who get paid to predict what COULD happen, so they can help us act to KEEP that from happening. Unless you’re one of those people, you shouldn’t be worrying about the what-if’s and the what-could-be’s. (Nor should you be sharing the what-if’s and what-could-be’s on social media. That only spreads anxiety to others rather than helping them grow in wisdom.)
  3. Be slow to speak, and don’t speak of what you don’t know. “Good sense is a fountain of life to him who has it, but the instruction of fools is folly.” (Proverbs 16:22). From my social media feed, it appears that suddenly everyone has become an expert on coronavirus. Suddenly everyone feels qualified to instruct on best-practices or pass judgment on what a city, government official, or church leader did or didn’t do. Wise Christians don’t join the chorus of folly in moments like this. Rather, wise Christians are prayerful, patient, and discerning; they speak calmly and with gentle wisdom. They know that the common good depends on steady, wise sharing of credible information from reliable sources.
  4. Be a person of peace, not anxiety. “The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17). Wise people are peaceful, gentle, reasonable, and merciful in the midst of a crisis. They shun panic and despair. They avoid doomsday prognostications and worst-case scenarios. They take action patiently and diligently. And they are able to do so because they have steadied their internal world through prayer and communion with God: “I have stilled and quieted my soul” (Psalm 131:2).
  5. Don’t fear bad news. “[The righteous person] is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord” (Psalm 112:7-8). This doesn’t mean the righteous person won’t GET bad news; it means he doesn’t live in fear of that news. God’s people will be affected by this pandemic. Some of us will be infected. But Christians do not live in fear of sickness and death; rather, we taunt death (1 Corinthians 15:55), because Jesus has already defeated it. In moments like this, rather than capitulating to the same fears of the society around us, we can live with joyful confidence in the God who has triumphed over death.
We’re all living through the same moment. What sets Christians apart is HOW we live through this moment. May we live as a people marked by wisdom… and may that wisdom show forth in ways that glorify our Creator and Redeemer.

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